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Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender

Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender

Acquire an intersectional understanding of the complexities and paradoxes that surround issues of gender and sexuality in the Netherlands — commonly believed to be one of the world’s most progressive and tolerant countries.

The program examines the intersections of gender and sexuality with race, class, and religion and highlights the experiences of the growing number of individuals living in these intersections. It interrogates how identity is affected by gender, sexuality, race, religion, and class, both as they are experienced and as they are perceived. During the program, students connect with different communities within the Netherlands; an excursion to Morocco provides additional international perspectives on program themes.

Major topics of study include:

  • Attitudes toward gender, sexuality, race, class, and religion within white, Muslim, and Afro-Caribbean communities
  • Queer, LGBT, and feminist movements
  • Migration, gender, and sexuality
  • Same-sex marriage rights
  • Transgender issues
  • Sex education

AmsterdamAmsterdam (program base)

Based in Amsterdam, this program offers rich opportunities for students to explore issues of migration, gender, and sexuality based on their interests. Amsterdam’s wealth of community organizations focused on sexuality and gender issues allows students to get actively involved and learn from professionals, researchers, and activists. Community volunteer opportunities help students develop their learning and communicative skills when working with a local organization. In addition, working with these organizations helps students gain access to the community or research subjects that they want to study for their ISP, thus gaining an inside perspective on Dutch society. 

Specialized archives and research centers

The Netherlands hosts a number of specialized archives and research centers related to the program’s themes. Students visit and make use of the International Gay and Lesbian Archive and Information Center housed at the Amsterdam Public Library, the library and archive of the women’s movement in the Atria Knowledge Institute for Emancipation and Women’s History, and the Rutgers World Population Foundation social-sexology library. Students also attend lectures and events at the Amsterdam Research Center for Gender and Sexuality at the University of Amsterdam. Scholars from the center occasionally lecture for SIT and advise students on their Independent Study Projects. Students can also visit the UvA Pride Lectures — a series of lectures focused on LGBTQ topics — at the University of Amsterdam.

gay pride parade in AmsterdamLocal excursions

In addition to the program’s major excursion to Morocco, students experience local excursions that include a trip to The Hague where students visit the HIVOS international development organization, which supports women’s and LGBT groups around the world. During the visit to the Rutgers World Population Foundation in Utrecht, students meet with professionals involved in developing sex education curriculum and programs used in the Netherlands and internationally.

Independent Study Project

Students spend part of the semester developing and refining their Independent Study Project (ISP) proposal. Students then devote four weeks near the end of the semester working on the ISP in which they pursue original research on a selected topic of interest to them. The ISP is conducted in Amsterdam or another approved location appropriate to the project.

Sample topic areas include:

  • Life stories of female farmers in the Netherlands
  • Multicultural approaches to sex education
  • Female body image in magazines and its effect on women’s self-perception 
  • Perceptions of virginity among young lesbian women
  • The role of Afro-Surinamese women in community activism in Amsterdam Bijlmer
  • Identity and belonging among male GBT Muslim migrants and refugees
  • Family life among same-sex couples


Previous college-level coursework or other preparation in sexuality and/or gender studies, as assessed by SIT.

Access virtual library guide.

The program includes two guest lecture series, one around LGBT and feminist studies and one around migration, gender, and sexuality. They are presented by academics, professionals, and grassroots activists. Lecturers represent a range of disciplines, including women’s and gender studies, LGBT studies, migration and ethnic studies, anthropology, sociology, and sexology. Students also participate in a community volunteer experience with a Dutch or international organization.

Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Theory and Application of Feminist, Lesbigay, and Queer Studies – syllabus
(GEND 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The seminar presents an interdisciplinary look at selected topics in sexuality and gender. Topics include the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) movements, feminism in the Netherlands, sex education, sex work, LGBT education, same sex marriage rights, and transgender issues.

Students attend a guest lecture series in which researchers, practitioners, and activists provide a broad range of perspectives on sexuality and gender in Dutch and international contexts. The lecturers represent a range of disciplines, including political science, women/gender studies, homo studies, media studies, and anthropology. Lecturers include prominent academics, professionals, and activists. Students also attend some of the public lectures at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) presented by the Amsterdam Research Center for Sexuality and Gender (ARC-GS), the George Mosse Foundation, and UvA Pride.

The course also includes a mini seminar series on critical theory. This series explores multiple, often contradictory, theories in describing and analyzing sexuality and gender. The focus of this aspect of the course is on the application of theory in the broader context and in relation to the student’s Independent Study Project.

Migration, Gender, and Sexuality – syllabus
(GEND 3005 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This course examines migration and migrant communities in the Netherlands, focusing primarily on postcolonial migration from Indonesia, Suriname, and the Antilles and on labor migration from Turkey and Morocco. The course explores how issues of migration, gender, and sexuality impact the experience of migrants in the Netherlands; the perception of migrant communities by mainstream Dutch society; and Dutch political and everyday discourse on migration and assimilation. During a two-week excursion to Morocco, students examine these issues from the context of one of the primary migrant-sending nations.

Introduction to Dutch Language – syllabus
(DUTC 1000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Emphasis is on a working knowledge of Dutch related to sexuality, gender, cross-cultural adaptations, and skills building. For example, students read a Dutch children’s book on sexuality while also learning vocabulary and basic grammar. Students are placed in beginning classes.

Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This course explores the concepts of conducting field research, research methodology, and research ethics, particularly in an intercultural context. Course content includes topic selection and refinement; appropriate methodologies; field study ethics; the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in observation and interviewing; and gathering, organizing, and communicating data. A cornerstone of the course is the oral history module, in which students learn research methods for gathering knowledge through life stories and personal narratives. This portion of the course is especially useful for students incorporating life stories into their Independent Study Project. In addition, each student engages in a community volunteer experience with a local organization throughout the seminar.

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
Conducted in Amsterdam or another approved location appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: negotiating religion and homosexuality; interracial relationships in the Dutch postcolonial context; multicultural approaches to sex education and tolerance education; black feminist activism in the Netherlands; Dutch-Moroccan women’s conceptions of virginity; gay men and HIV testing; same-sex marriage.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects / undergraduate research.

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

moroccoThe Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender program includes exceptional, field-based learning opportunities for a broader and deeper understanding of course content. In addition to shorter, in-country visits, the program travels to Morocco, giving students additional insight on the issues of sexuality, gender, and migration from a different international perspective. 


During this two-week excursion, students engage with Moroccan academics, researchers, and activists to examine the issue of sexuality and gender in a modern and Islamic society. The role of Islamic minorities is a crucial social issue in much of Europe, and issues of gender and sexuality are seen as the most visible fault line of societal tensions. Traveling to Morocco grants students the opportunity to examine these issues from a very different cultural context and perspective. Additionally, as Moroccan immigrants comprise one of the largest migrant communities in the Netherlands, this excursion also focuses on the issue of gender and migration.

The Netherlands

Red Light DistrictThe program also includes excursions within the Netherlands. Highlights include:

  • The Rutgers/World Population Foundation, the Dutch expertise center on sexuality and home to the largest archive dedicated to social sexual research (Utrecht)
  • The HIVOS foundation, one of the main Dutch international development funding organizations, to discuss civil society, sexuality, and development with HIVOS professional staff
  • Amsterdam’s Red Light District with staff from the Prostitute Information Center

Important Travel and Visa Notice

Notice: Students attending this program will travel on a 90-day Schengen Tourist Visa. US citizens are permitted to remain in the Schengen zone on a tourist visa for only 90 days within a 180-day period.

The Schengen zone is a group of European countries, including the Netherlands, with a mutual immigration agreement. Schengen countries are listed here:

The SIT Netherlands program will take the entire 90 days. This means that students cannot travel in the Schengen area 180 days prior to the start of the program, or 180 days after the end of the program. Students planning to participate in another program in Europe either before or after their SIT Netherlands program should inform their admissions counselor immediately.

Yvette KopijnYvette Kopijn, Academic Director

Yvette Kopijn began working with the program in January 2008. In addition to her current role as academic director, she teaches oral history and interviewing workshops. She is an oral historian by profession. Yvette holds a degree in gender and ethnic studies. She is a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research and is a member of the Amsterdam Research Center for Gender and Sexuality at the University of Amsterdam. Her research focuses on the intersection of gendered survival strategies and constructions of female identity among Javanese-Surinamese women. Specifically, she is examining the influential role that women play in the survival of the Javanese migrant community and how that affects the ways in which they renegotiate their female identity. Yvette expects to defend her dissertation in 2016.

Between 2001 and 2007, Yvette worked with several cultural heritage organizations and conducted different oral history projects, including Haar Geschiedenis ("Her history"), an online collection of life stories of migrant women in the Netherlands that was designed for Aletta Institute for Women’s History. She also worked on Javanen in Diaspora, an online collection of life stories of Javanese-Surinamese people living in Indonesia, Suriname, and the Netherlands. This online collection was designed in collaboration with the Royal Dutch Institute for East-Asian and Caribbean Studies and the Foundation for the Commemoration of Javanese Migration (Stichji). 

Yvette comes from a family with diverse sexual and ethnic identities. She was born in Aruba (Dutch Antilles). 

Astrid Jehle, Program Assistant and Community Volunteer Experience Coordinator

Astrid Jehle handles many of the administrative and organizational details of the program and assists in the various workshops and excursions. Astrid grew up in a Dutch/German family in the south of the Netherlands. She holds a BA in liberal arts & sciences and an MSc (research) in psychology. She held several teaching positions, from snowboard instructor to research skills lecturer. For a local NGO for LGB rights, she volunteers as an LGBT educator in Dutch high schools. At SIT, she assists with the organizational aspects and implementation of the Netherlands program. She also helps students find interesting Community Volunteer Experiences (CVE).

Bastiaan Franse, Homestay Coordinator

Bastiaan Franse’s task is to find host families who will welcome students into their homes for the program’s time in Amsterdam and to manage all issues related to the homestays. The students check in with the homestay coordinator on a regular basis and the homestay coordinator stays in touch with the host families. Besides working for SIT, Bastiaan works as a social worker with trans* youth and their families, facilitates youth groups for trans* youth, and educates high school students and professionals in education and health care on gender diversity. Bastiaan was on the founding board of Transgender Netwerk Nederland and has been working in youth care since 2001.

Paul Marlisa, Financial Assistant

Paul Marlisa assists with administrative tasks, primarily finances, travel arrangements, and IT/communications. In addition to his work with SIT Netherlands, Paul works as a nurse in the neurologic ward of the AMC, the largest academic hospital in Amsterdam.

Eduard Verbree, Language Instructor

Eduard Verbree is the director of Mercuurtaal, an independent language institute. He is a gifted teacher and tailors the Nederlandse les (Dutch class) to the themes of the SIT program. He also coordinates additional classes and activities on aspects of Dutch culture.

Khadija al Mourabit, Community Volunteer Experience Coordinator

Khadija al Mourabit studied philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, specializing in logic. She is currently finishing her study on the brain and cognition. Khadija has been active on many boards and in many organizations. Currently, she is the president of the student platform Amsterdam United at the University of Amsterdam: a network of students that deal with enhancing diversity and inclusivity within the University of Amsterdam. She is tackling issues concerning ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, and politics. In 2006, Khadija was part of a UNFPA campaign concerning women and international migration, where she gave a press conference in New York. She has been a guest and panel member at several televised debates. Next to her academic and activist work, Khadija is a poet. She writes in Dutch, Tamazight, and English. She has performed at several poetry and literary festivals, such as the festival Winternachten. As the Community Volunteer Experience (CVE) coordinator at SIT, Khadija guides students in finding CVEs that suit their ISP interests.

Sampling of additional lecturers for this program:

Chandra Frank, Feminist Studies and Activism Module Coordinator

Chandra Frank holds an MPhil in African studies from the University of Cape Town and is currently a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths College in London. Her research focuses on the embodiment of resistance within the black feminist movement in the Netherlands. Together with Sarah Klerks, she runs Gerilja Kurating (G/K), an online magazine that explores the meaning and presence of black visual arts today. For Framed Framed, she is currently working toward an exhibition that critically explores the relationship between South Africa and the Netherlands. The module that she coordinates for SIT focuses on the history of feminism in the Netherlands, with a particular focus on the black feminist movement, transnational feminism, and the shift to material feminism with its focus on the body. Her module includes a field visit to Mama Cash, the world’s oldest women’s fund that supports about 100 women’s rights groups and organizations that are led by women, girls, and trans people. 

Laurens Buijs, LGBT Studies and Activism Module Coordinator

Laurens Buijs is a social scientist working at the University of Amsterdam. In his work, he explores the concepts of identity and sexuality with a focus on Dutch culture. In his study of the perpetrators of antigay violence (2009), he argues that dominant conceptualizations of both gay acceptance and homophobia — as “assets” of ethnic, religious or cultural traditions — are inaccurate and contribute to nationalistic myths of a progressive Dutch nation confronted with external intolerant threats. Instead, he proposes to see incidents of violence as “rites of passage,” in which masculinity, societal status, and peer recognition are at stake. Other themes in his work are the rise of the new right-wing anti-Islam parties after 9/11, the development of emancipation movements since the 1960s, and the making of “typically Dutch” policy measures, such as gay marriage, legalization of prostitution, and drugs policies. For SIT, he coordinates the module on LGBT studies and activism, where he discusses LGBT history in Amsterdam, gay marriage rights, LGBT sexual health, gender diversity, and transgender issues.

Marije Janssen, Sexuality Studies and Activism Module Coordinator

Marije Janssen studied at Utrecht University within the fields of gender studies and (new) media and digital culture. In the past nine years, she has been active within the field of gender and sexuality in the Netherlands. As an activist, she focuses on sex worker rights but is also the initiator of different events around sexuality, ranging from underground multidisciplinary festivals to workshops around positive sexual education for professionals. All of her work is rooted in the belief that sexuality is part of our essence as human beings and that it is important to create spaces where sexuality can be safely and openly discussed and explored. In this light, Marije initiated the Get a Room! film series, a bimonthly film and discussion event focusing on all aspects of sexuality ( After being successful in both Amsterdam and Utrecht, Get a Room! is currently taking place in Rotterdam and Eindhoven. Within SIT, she is responsible for the Sexualities Studies module, where she focuses on sex positivism, sex work, sex education, and feminist pornography. Part of her module is an excursion to the Red Light District in Amsterdam and a visit to Rutgers/WPF in Utrecht, the oldest organization in the Netherlands working on the enhancement of sexual education.

Nancy Jouwe, Gender, Sexuality, and Postcolonial Communities Module Coordinator

Nancy Jouwe studied Women’s Studies and Cultural History at the University of Utrecht and York and is a feminist and a cultural historian.  Over the past 21 years, she worked as a manager/managing director of the NGO Mama Cash and cultural organization Kosmopolis. As an activist, Nancy has been involved from the mid-80s onwards with the squatters’ movement, the queer movement, the indigenous peoples’ movement, and the women’s movement, especially in the Asia/Oceania region.  Nancy currently works as a curator and researcher at the crossroads of art, cultural heritage, and postcolonial history and is affiliated with the Humanistic University in Utrecht. Within SIT, she is responsible for the module on gender, sexuality, and postcolonial communities, where she focuses on the gendered and racialized history of migrants coming from Netherlands’ former colonies and the instability of postcolonial citizenship. Together with Jennifer Tosh, she takes students on the Amsterdam Black Heritage tour and provides a theory class on intersectionality.

Paul Mepschen, Gender, Sexuality, and Post-Migration Communities Module Coordinator

Paul Mepschen is a social anthropologist working at the University of Amsterdam. His work focuses on populism and the politics of belonging in postcolonial and post-Fordist Europe. Paul is currently working on a PhD concentrating on the culturalization of citizenship and the construction of “autochthony” in the Netherlands. The study takes an ethnographic approach, focusing on a particular neighborhood in Amsterdam, and looks at the intersections of cultural, class, and urban politics and struggles over power and representation. Another focus of Mepschen’s work has been the role of sexuality in the politics of culturalization and in Dutch racism and Islamophobia. He has analyzed the entanglements of “homonormative” representations of gay rights politics with Dutch neo-nationalist populism and anti-Islam discourses. As an activist, Mepschen has been involved in various progressive social movements, including labor and anti-racism activism. He has co-founded the leftist think tank TENK. Within SIT, he is responsible for the module on post-migration communities, in which he discusses multicultural sexual politics, sex education classes and multi-ethnic kids, and the experiences of queer Muslims. His module also includes a meet and greet with Chris Belloni, director of the documentary I Am Gay and Muslim (2012).

Guno Jones, Research Methods and Ethics Module Coordinator

Guno Jones is an interdisciplinary scholar who received his PhD at the VU University in Amsterdam, where he is affiliated with the Faculty of Social Sciences. He held several research positions at the University of Amsterdam and the VU University Amsterdam. As a lecturer, he taught on a variety of subjects at both universities. His main research interests are on citizenship, postcolonial migration and the nation in the Netherlands, Belgium, and the UK; the heritage of World War II; and the heritage of colonialism and slavery in the Netherlands and its former colonies. He participated in many post-doc research projects. Among others, he was a member of the research program The Dynamics of War Heritage, Memory, and Remembrance and was part of the research program Inclusive Thinking: The Policy and Practice of Diversity in the Netherlands in Historical Context. Guno has published many articles and books, including an article on the instability of postcolonial citizenship in the anthology Dutch Racism by Philomena Essed and Isabel Hoving. He also has worked as a manuscript reviewer for the journals Ethnic and Racial Studies and Women's Studies. Within SIT, Guno coordinates the module on Research Methods and Ethics.

homestay family in NetherlandsStudents live with a homestay family in Amsterdam for 12 weeks. Hosts include LGBT households, single parents, and traditional families, all of whom offer unique insights into issues of sexuality and gender within a Dutch or international context.

Other accommodations during the program include hostels and modest hotels.

Program Dates: Fall 2015

Program Start Date:  Aug 24, 2015

Program End Date:    Dec 4, 2015

The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.

Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.

Application Deadline:   May 15, 2015


SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $15,725

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
    • LGBT and feminist studies
    • Sexuality
    • Critical theory
    • Tolerance and sexual health education
    • Gender and migration issues
    • Oral history and doing qualitative research
    • Queer theory, migration, and globalization
  • Two guest lecture series
  • Research Methods and Ethics seminar on research methods and Human Subjects Review
  • Introduction course to Dutch language and culture
  • All educational excursions to locations such as Utrecht, The Hague, and Morocco, including all related travel costs
  • Free access to all museums in the Netherlands
  • Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period
  • Bicycle or alternative local transport

Room & Board:$5,250

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Amsterdam), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period.
  • Homestay (twelve weeks in Amsterdam)
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare to Program Launch Site

International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Visa Expenses: Not yet available.

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: $200

International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.


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